How do we build for Medicare for All?

October 3, 2017

I THANK Dr. Scheetz for adding in a Readers' View ("'Medicare for all' has to be for all") to the analysis of the dynamics and shortcomings of Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All proposal that I wrote about for SW last week ("What's the next step toward Medicare for All?"), and for fleshing out the contributions of different forces within the movement that has been organizing for years around this issue.

We are in an exciting time in which the possibilities and challenges facing those organizing for Medicare for All have taken a qualitative step forward. In short, things are getting real for our fight.

The point of my article wasn't mainly to provide a detailed analysis of Sanders' bill, still less a description of the forces involved in stopping Trumpcare. Dr. Scheetz references a very important shortcoming of Sanders' legislation regarding long-term care and also references the disability rights organization ADAPT, which has done great work, both in New York state, where I live, and nationally.

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The Medicare for All bill that activists were fighting for in New York state has the same weakness on long-term care. The California single-payer legislation that Democrats blocked this summer seems to include long-term care, so maybe we can borrow from that framework and fight around this issue.

I just attended a single-payer strategy conference in Las Vegas where I met a variety of people who helped organize for the defeat of Trumpcare--I hope their stories get out there more.

To me, the victory over Trumpcare was not just important in saving a huge chunk of federally funded health care from the Republican budget ax, but in serving as a model for how to wage a defensive battle while making positive demands for what we want to see instead.

The single-payer movement, despite admonitions from the likes of Nancy Pelosi to stop talking about it, grew in influence out of this fight because people joined in struggle together and, in that context, debated what we want in productive ways.

I think the only chance we have at winning what we want is if the Medicare for All movement as a whole and the left-wing forces within that movement get exponentially larger. We won't have the power to demand anything unless there are many times more workplace committees, regular community activist meetings, town halls, protests of politicians and more.

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

Beyond both its drawbacks and also its strengths, I think Sanders' introduction of Medicare for All legislation creates openings for us to step up our organizing and reach a new audience that can come to understand all the issues involved in this struggle and fight for the health care system we need.
Sean Petty, New York City

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